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Jan 29, 2005 12:17 PM

Give me your sales pitch for your chili recipe (and the recipe!)

  • j

So the Super Bowl is right around the corner and I basically use that as an excuse to make a great big pot of chili. There are soooo many recipes out there and so far I have not had the greatest success. I have not found one that comes out thick enough - usually it's like pieces of meat in a watery tomato-y sauce. HELP! (And I'm not, I guess, a chili purist because I *do* like beans in it...)



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  1. Chili recipes or methods vary so from region to region and person to person.I don't use tomatoes or green peppers. What I do is brown some chuck stew meat slowly and add to a dutch oven. Then brown some onions lightly and add to the meat with some sauteed garlic. I then toast fresh cumin seed and grind it in a mortar. Lightly toast some Mexican oregano and add to the pot. I get my chili powders (pure, not mixed with other spices) from Pendry's in Ft. Worth and I do like their Bull Canyon blend of chilis, but sometimes use just plain Ancho if i want a brighter and hotter chile. Anyway I taost that a bit and add it to the pot and then add beef stockto cover and let simmer away until the meat is breaking apart. I usually add some masa harina as a thickner if it needs it and I like the flavor. I often have beans on the side so they can be added at will or hominy is good sometimes too. Other add on's can be grated cheese, chopped onions, salsas etc. A nice pan of cornbread sticks is good too to have along with the chili.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      Thanks, Candy! You are so right about the recipes varying by region. I'm in Boston, so it's not often that we get some real Texan chili recipes. I will try not adding the tomatoes - funny because that's sort-of a chili staple up here.

      1. re: Jellybelly

        If you are wanting to know how to make authentic Texas chili as the San Antonio chili queens used to make it, then forget about beans, tomatoes, onions, chili powder, thickeners, etc. The only ingredients are diced meat, lard or bacon grease, water, salt, the rehydrated pulp (ONLY, no seeds, stems, or SKINS) of dried chiles (any or all of anchos, New Mexico reds, guajillos, pasillas, cascabels, etc.), fresh garlic, cumin, and Mexican oregano. Use LOTS of chile pulp. That's what makes it chili. OK, if you want to play fast and loose with tradition, you can add some paprika and fresh jalapeños or serranos. That's it. Try it. You'll like it.


        1. re: Jim Washburn

          That sounds awesome. Could you give a little bit more guideline (very rough proportions, how long to re-hydrate, what to add in what order, etc.) I have some bacon grease I've been saving for fejoada, but I might go with chili instead! Is my little 1/2 cup going to be enough?

          1. re: nooodles

            has anyone ever made chili the same way twice?
            sometimes beef sometimes pork sometimes turkey and or sausage
            sometimes ground sometimes cubed
            sometimes beans sometimes not
            sometimes red sometimes black
            sometimes dried ground chilis sometimes fresh or both
            depending on what's around in ny
            never chili powder or available packaged mixes
            sometimes tomato sometimes not
            sometimes cilantro sometimes not
            oregano and garlic is mandatory
            sometimes bacon or bacon grease once even used leftover goose fat i had
            sometimes harina sometimes not
            etc etc etc

            1. re: byrd

              sounds like how I cook most things.

              1. re: bacchante

                Me too, that's exactly how I give people my recipe. I have a bunch of weird things in it too, like horseradish, beer, somtimes tequila, cocoa powder.. but then I say use whichever of these you have around, it always comes out fine. The most important thing is, I just keep a big ziploc bag in the freezer and put all the ends of any pork or beef roasts, maybe even sausage or cold cut type things, all meat leftovers and when the bag is full, it's time to make chili! (Although if I was making it sprecial, I make make it with brisket.)

                1. re: coll

                  That's a great idea to use up all those pieces of meat! I keep bones and carcasses to make stock with, and I usually throw thoses pieces into the stock. Now I have another use. That will make me more aggressive when trimming roasts & such before cooking them, too, knowing they will have a good end.

            2. re: nooodles

              Select chiles that feel meaty and at least somewhat pliable. Brittle ones that easily crack or crumble in your fingers are too dry. If the chiles are dirty on the outside, wipe them off with a damp cloth. Now, as for separating the pulp, there are various ways to accomplish the same result. This is how I do it. I pull the stems off and tear the chile open from stem end to tip. Shake and scrape out as many seeds as I easily can but don't worry about getting all. I'll usually use 10 to 12 good-sized anchos or equivalent weight of other varieties for one pot of chili, say about 3 pounds of meat. Actually, when I do chile pulp I do a whole bunch at a time, as it keeps really well. I'll do different varieties separately and mix them as desired for each dish (chile pulp is useful for lots more than just Texas chili). OK, now I put these prepared chiles into plenty of boiling water, let them boil for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let them steep for about an hour. I periodically stir and turn them, because they float on top of the water. Then I lift the chiles out of the water with a slotted spoon or skimmer and run them through a food mill with a fine sieve. You can just press them through a sieve if you don't have a food mill. Use the steeping water to keep them wet as they go through the sieve. The sieve or food mill will separate out the seeds and skins. The problem with chile powder is that the harsh-tasting skins are ground up with the chile pulp. By the time I'm through with this step, I've incorporated nearly all of the steeping water into the separated pulp, so the result is liquid but thick. Leave the last of the water in the boiling pot, as it will have some dirt in it.

              OK, for meat I'll use something fatty, usually beef chuck or pork butt. If I can separate out some chunks of fat while I'm dicing the meat, I'll render it in the stew pot and use that to brown the meat. If I need more fat for browning, I'll use bacon grease or lard. I salt the meat well as I brown it and save any meat juices that flow out during browning. OK, then the browned, salted meat with juices is in the stew pot. I'll add some water and bring the pot up to a simmer. Add the chile pulp, and plenty of it. It's delicious. Add cumin and Mexican oregano. Careful with the oregano. I want to taste it, but too much oregano is too much. Better to have too much cumin. I'll add a fair amount of minced fresh garlic now and some more when the chili is getting close to being done. I just let it simmer partially covered until the meat is tender. Three hours, maybe four. Taste and adjust seasonings as it goes along. It's ready to eat when the meat is tender, but if I hold it overnight and reheat it the next day, it's even better.

              My chili is not so thick you can eat it with a fork. The meat is very tender but still in chunks and the sauce is liquid but with lots of body. You need a spoon. When I eat chili I have nothing else with it but soda crackers or tortillas and beer. Hot damn, it's good!


            3. re: Jim Washburn

              In my area, that's called "chile colorado" and is a different animal from chili con carne.

            4. re: Jellybelly

              I'm from Arizona and live in Indiana by way of Northern NYS (I lived a time in Westboro, MA too) and noticed that a lot of people used tomatoes. They do around here too. When I was telling a friend how I make it, she said no tomatoes? How do you get it red? And, I of course said "the chili. I make chili the way my mother and grandmother made it. Try adding some masa harina, you should be able to get it in a large supermarket Quaker makes it among others. Failing that you could pulverize some corn tortillas in a food processor, don't fry them just grind up and use that as a thickner.

              1. re: Candy

                The "how do you make it red" question brings up another point we both may have taken for granted. You need a LOT of chile to make good chile. I've seen recipes that call for all of a couple of tablespoons of powder for several pounds of meat!

                I never really measure it, but it's probably around a heaping tablespoon per pound of meat. I suppose you could overdo it, but mostly on textural grounds. You don't want to end up with something too thick to simmer, and it will thicken up as it cooks, but otherwise, it's hard to use too much chile as long as it's properly balanced with the other seasonings. And like the salt, you can't add more toward the end of cooking and have it come out right.

            5. re: Candy

              I also use cut up (in small cubes, about 3/8") roasts rather than ground beef - bottom round and rump works well, too. Makes a huge difference, IMHO. If you live somewhere where there is such a thing as chili grind, that might work too, but I like knowing exactly what I'm using anyway. I usually make a big batch when a good cut is on sale and freeze it, it freezes very well.

              I don't bother to grind my cumin fresh but I do use a paste made from dried chiles instead of powder. I find it gives it a much smoother consistency and also acts as more of a thickener/emulsifier than any kind of powdered chiles, making the masa unecessary. Using whole dried chiles is a bit of a pain, but the paste also freezes very well and it's not much harder to process a lot at once than a few and the next time you want it, it'll be no work at all. I generally use a "mole combination" like anchos, mulatos and pasillas along with one or two of any others I have around to add a little complexity.

              Some might consider it sacreligious, but I also like to use a little canned tomato or tomato paste. Not enough to notice or taste as such, but just to add a little acidity and "depth of flavor." Similarly, a small piece of stick cinnamon (maybe 3/4" to a gallon of chili) thrown in for a while and then removed, gives it a nice added dimension you usually can't specifically identify individually, as does a single, small bay leaf. And of course plenty of black pepper and enough salt at the beginning - salting toward the end isn't the same unless you let it sit in the fridge overnight afterward. I use just enough broth/liquid to barely reach the top of the meat, which will shrink and give off it's own liquid as it cooks. Slow simmer over a very low flame for a a couple of hours.

              And like most stews and many soups, it *always* tastes better the next day, so make it ahead if it's convenient.

              Personally, I prefer a very dense chili you could almost eat with a fork, but I'm broadminded enough LOL to recognize that is a matter of taste. By the time it cooks down, I usually end up with about a pint of chili per pound of meat to start. If you prefer something a little less "high protein" (not to mention caloric) you could use more liquid and masa to thicken it up.

              1. re: MikeG

                Mine you can eat with a fork too.

            6. You should also read the several threads on this subject that have transpired on this board over the past month; there are many splendid recipes included or embedded in them, and people are unluckly to repeat their recipes in such a short time frame.

              1. I have mentioned on previous posts about chili that the Greens restaurant in SF has a marvelous black bean chili. It is in their cook book if you have it. If not e-mail me and I'll send it to you. Yes it is vegetarian but absolutely delicious and you would swear there was meat in it but it is the smoky chipotle that gives you that impression.

                1. I adapted the following recipe from a recipe on Epicurious, linked below. I've never made it without rave reviews. It's meaty, spicy, has the beans that you say you like, and the recipe is very precise. Although it may not be as "authentic" as some of the Texas chili recipes below, it is incredibly tasty and I highly recommend it.

                  Spicy Red Pork and Bean Chili

                  1/2 lb sliced bacon, chopped into ½ inch strips
                  4 lb boneless pork shoulder or pork butt roast, trimmed of obvious fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
                  (Note: if you want to make all meat chili, use 6 lbs. of pork and delete canned beans below)
                  2 tablespoons vegetable oil
                  1 large white onion, chopped
                  1 to 2 fresh jalapeño chiles, seeded and minced
                  6 large garlic cloves, minced
                  2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
                  1/3 cup chili powder (use the spice blend called “chili powder,” not a pure chili powder)
                  1 tablespoon ground cumin
                  ¼-1/2 teaspoon cayenne
                  1 c. beef broth (I use better than boullion)
                  1 cup strong brewed coffee
                  1 cup water
                  28 oz can crushed tomatoes with purée
                  2 (19-oz) cans pinto beans, drained
                  1 T. maple syrup or brown sugar
                  Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

                  Accompaniments: chopped red onion, cilantro, diced avocado, lime wedges, sour cream, cheese (I served it with queso panela at the Chow Fiesta, but also good with grated sharp cheddar), tortillas

                  Cook bacon in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, turning, until crisp. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot (reserve bacon fat for use when sautéing onions). Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper. Add oil to pot and heat over moderately high heat. Brown pork in batches without crowding and transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add onion and jalapeños and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened (add more bacon fat if necessary). Add garlic, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne, then cook, stirring, 1 minute. Return bacon and pork (with accumulated juices) to pot and add broth, coffee, water, and tomatoes with purée.

                  Simmer chili, uncovered, for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until pork is very tender. Add beans and maple syrup/brown sugar and bring to a simmer for another 10-15 minutes, stirring. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve with accompaniments.

                  Chili is best made one day before.

                  Serves 8.

                  (Btw, this is the recipe I made for the Los Angeles Chow Fiesta this past fall, and the chowhounds in attendance seemed to like it, too :-)

                  Link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                  1. Mine are a couple of tips rather than a recipe per se: First, I use beer as the liquid (a 12 oz. bottle to 3 lbs of meat). It gives the chili a delicious and undefinable flavor.

                    Second, I've started using black beans in mine, and I often used canned. I like the look of them, and their texture.